No. 8 Tritons Even Series With Cal State Dominguez Hills Behind Weed and Whitcomb; Magic Number at 3
CARSON, Calif. - Eighth-ranked University of California San Diego got another impressive mound performance from junior newcomer Brandon Weed, and produced a trio of two-run frames, to defeat Cal State Dominguez Hills, 6-1, in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball action at Toro Field on Saturday.
First-place UC San Diego improved to 29-10 overall and 24-10 in the CCAA. Eleventh-place Cal State Dominguez Hills dropped to 16-28 overall and 15-27 in league play in its home finale on Senior Day. The Toros had taken Friday's series opener, 7-5.
Of the Tritons' closest competitors, second-place Cal State Monterey Bay swept its doubleheader at Cal State San Bernardino, rallying for a 7-5 victory in the seven-inning nightcap through a three-run seventh. San Francisco State split its twin ball at Stanislaus State, getting walked off 4-3 in game one before grabbing a 10-2 decision in the second meeting.
With all Saturday results final, UC San Diego's magic number to clinch a first CCAA regular-season title since 2012, is down to three. The Tritons control their fate and can go an even 3-3 over their final six to take the banner on their own. They can in fact clinch the crown on Sunday, provided they sweep their noon doubleheader with CSUDH, and CSUMB drops its regular-season finale in San Bernardino at 11 a.m.
Star sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb was back to his spectacular self as a CCAA Most Valuable Player candidate, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and four RBI. The Newbury Park native (Newbury Park HS) now has seven long balls on the year, and a team-leading 20 doubles, second-most in the league.
Weed (8-0) went 7.0 innings and allowed the lone run on seven hits and one walk. He struck out eight to collect his high as a first-year Triton for a second straight start. Weed produced a 1-2-3 second on two strikeouts and a nice over-the-shoulder grab in shallow left center by Whitcomb. He registered his first shutdown frame in the third, working around a two-out single. The fifth was also a shutdown inning, of the 1-2-3 variety, on just eight pitches with a called third strike and pair of easy flyouts.
In the first, Whitcomb reached on a one-out infield throwing error, and redshirt senior third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) rolled a single through the right side on a 2-2 toss to put Tritons at the corners for Blake Baumgartner. The cleanup man hit into a 5-4-3 double play with the third baseman making a nice play.
The Tritons squandered a leadoff Logan White, Jr., single in the third, as he was thrown out trying to take third on a ball in the dirt after Ryan McNally had bunted the redshirt freshman to second. The play was erroneously credited as a caught stealing against White. The visitors still managed the first run of the contest, however, as senior rightfielder R.J. Prince worked a two-out, eight-pitch walk at the top of the order, and Whitcomb lifted his initial double into the gap in left center. Eliopulos followed by sending an RBI single to right for a 2-0 edge.
The fourth began with back-to-back singles by redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim and freshman second baseman Michael Fuhrman. Kim's, through the left side, was his first hit of the series after four swinging strikeouts. UC San Diego was unable to capitalize, however, after a failed sacrifice, flyout, and fielder's choice groundout.
Consecutive singles opened the home fourth as well, by the No. 3 and No. 4 batters. Weed (Lemon Grove/Southwestern College/Grossmont HS) got a fouled popout and then after throwing a first-pitch ball, a swinging strikeout, but Eduardo Frayre-Cerda drove in the Toros' first run with a base hit through the left side that narrowly eluded Eliopulos and was strangely credited as a double after an outfield misplay. With men at second and third, Weed still preserved the tenuous 2-1 lead with his sixth strikeout.
Prince promptly led off the fifth by launching Drake Pingel's second pitch well over the fence in left for his third home run as a Triton, all coming over a six-game span. Whitcomb followed immediately with his seventh to go back to back for a 4-1 cushion. That one was also pulled deep to left. After Eliopulos flew out and Baumgartner singled sharply through the left side, Kim belted a 1-2 pitch over the leftfielder's head for his ninth double, prompting a second Toro pitching change for the afternoon.
Fuhrman worked a six-pitch walk from new hurler Jesse Galindo, who then got a three-pitch strikeout and first-pitch flyout to leave the bags full.
Weed thwarted a two-out rally in the seventh, as after a single and his only walk on five tosses, he got Jose Jimenez to fly out to left center, where senior centerfielder Christopher Schasteen, who entered defensively in the fifth, made a shoestring catch.
UC San Diego came right out and added two huge insurance runs in the eighth on Whitcomb's two-out, two-run double. That was after Schasteen narrowly beat out an infield single to lead off and was cut down on another failed sacrifice attempt by the Tritons. McNally corrected it somewhat with a solid first-pitch single to left, and after Prince's flyout to deep left center, Whitcomb did his thing, down the left field line.
Freshman right-hander Michael Mitchell took over for Weed in the eighth and got in some trouble after two quick outs, loading the bases on a well-hit double to left and consecutive walks. He then started off Joe Canepa with two called strikes, and after two balls, caught the pinch-hitter looking to preserve the entirety of the 6-1 bulge.
Fourth-year senior right-handed closer Kyle Lucke navigated around a one-out walk in the ninth in a non-save situation, Baumgartner squeezing a foul pop-up to end it.
Eliopulos, Kim and McNally had two hits apiece for the visitors. Prince finished 1-for-4 with his home run, a walk, two runs and an RBI. Fuhrman singled with two walks.
UC San Diego remains a perfect 12-0 for games in which Weed throws a pitch.
Senior right-hander Spencer Hereford (0-2), who earned his first save in notching the last five outs on Friday, gave up two runs on six hits and one walk over 3.0 innings. He struck out two and was perfect in the second. Pierson Loska had three hits.
The four-game series now shifts south to La Jolla for its conclusion with a noon doubleheader on Sunday, April 28. Eight Tritons will be recognized in between games on Senior Day at Triton Ballpark. The nightcap will then be a shortened seven innings. Parking is free all day on East Campus. Those unable to attend can watch all day, without charge, on UCSDtritons.tv with Ted Mendenhall on the call.
Triton Notes: Alex Eliopulos started his 115th straight game, all at third base ... Eliopulos, first baseman Blake Baumgartner and shortstop Shay Whitcomb are the only Tritons to start all 39 games in 2019 ... UC San Diego head coach Eric Newman sent out the same lineup for the third straight game, with the only exception being true freshman infielder Ryan McNally making his first collegiate start as a centerfielder in place of senior Christopher Schasteen ... Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince was in the leadoff spot for the third time ... Redshirt freshman Logan White, Jr., earned a fifth start in a row as the designated hitter ... Brandon Weed drew his eighth mound start, marking his 12th appearance this season ... McNally's third-inning sacrifice was his fourth ... Whitcomb's fifth-inning home run was the 12th of his career ... Aaron Kim's fifth-inning double was the 12th of his college days ... Whitcomb now has 20 doubles on the year and 32 for his career, with seven two-double games as a Triton and six this season, all coming over the last 22 contests ... It was Whitcomb's ninth three-hit effort of 2019 ... The Tritons are 9-6 on the road ... The Tritons are now 28-4 in 2019 when scoring at least three runs, and 19-2 when hitting a home run.
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 37 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
Follow the Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Baseball, follow on Twitter (@UCSDbsb) and Instagram (@ucsd_baseball). Head coach Eric Newman is also on Twitter (@CoachEricNewman).